Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Feeling a little ranty

About halfway through my body pump weightlifting class earlier this week, the instructor chirped that we had just finished what was voted "most challenging squats track of the year." Yay, us! But I was also reminded, for about the millionth time, that I'm still pissed off at Vicki Iovine, author of "Girlfriends' Guide to Pregnancy."

I discovered this book years ago in the waiting room of my OB/GYN office. I'd often pick it up and thumb through a few pages, feeling sorta guilty for peeking ahead but being unable to resist reading about this most mysterious topic. So when I became pregnant myself, I was excited to have an legitimate reason to read it.

The book claims to explain what REALLY happens during pregnancy, stuff your doctor won't tell you but your girlfriends will. A lot of it is fine, I suppose, but when I got to the chapter on exercise, the entire book was pretty much ruined for me. In this chapter, Vicki offers up eight reasons pregnant women shouldn't bother to exercise. And now I am going to share that list with you, along with my own personal opinion about why each and every item is total bullshit.

1. You will be too tired.
During my first trimester, the exhaustion was absolutely crippling, and it was indeed tougher to drag my ass out of bed in the morning. And nausea kept me off the elliptical a few times. But even during those morning (...noon, night...) sickness weeks, I tried to get out for a walk or two. And when I got back to regular workouts, I realized I had far more energy (aka fewer midafternoon naps at my desk) when I was getting regular exercise. For me, activity = energy.

2. You won’t like yourself in harsh gym mirrors.
Oh, right. I forgot how the most important thing at the gym is to look gorgeous! I seriously can't believe a woman wrote this. Vicki says she would prefer to "sulk and stop exercising" before becoming one of those "die-hard" pregnant exercisers who wear their husband's T-shirts "to camouflage things." She also warns that regular gym clothes "take on a whole new identity when stuffed with pregnant bellies, pregnant thighs and pregnant knees, and topped off by pregnant arms." I guess I am supposed to be ashamed of this? Well, I'm not. Look, I'm quite aware that the giant-T-shirt-over-a-beach-ball look isn't sexy, and that I'm likely plumping out all over right now. But I still feel a little proud when I look in the gym mirror. Watching my body doing lunges or shoulder presses is cool, like I'm still a strong and motivated person despite the increasing physical limitations of pregnancy. And guess what? If I wasn't at the gym, I'd probably be staring in the mirror at home, feeling depressed about the weight gain Vicki thinks I should do nothing to control. Fun!

3. You will get fat anyway.
No shit. Hey, Vicki, nobody thinks you can exercise away a pregnant belly. But just because weight gain is inevitable doesn't mean I should let the flab just wash over me. My doctor said I should gain 25-35 pounds during pregnancy, and so far I'm within the ballpark. If I wasn't working out several times per week - especially considering the volumes of food I'm eating - I don't think I'd stand a chance at achieving this perfectly reasonable goal.

4. Exercise will not help you during labor and delivery in any way.
I am going to go out on a limb here, since this is an area in which I have no experience. But I'm pretty sure I'm right that LABOR IS HARD. Physically. Mentally. Emotionally. Vicki explains that exercise won't make your vagina more delivery-friendly or your contractions less painful or more productive (did anybody really think that anyway?) But I believe the mental endurance and focus I have learned through exercise - particularly with running, yoga and weight training - may indeed come in handy one day in October. Another book I read suggested that you get lots of sleep as your due date nears, since you never know when you'll have to get up and perform the gynecological equivalent of running a marathon. For 18 hours. So to me, it seems that, in the months leading up to this feat, a little activity for the ol' ticker and the rest of your muscles MIGHT not be such a bad idea.

5. You might endanger the pregnancy.
I know there are situations in which exercise is a bad idea for pregnant ladies. But those ladies have received those instructions from their doctor, and it's just silly of this writer to alarm the pregnant population at large. This might be a good time to mention the benefits exercise can bring to your pregnancy, including alleviating constipation, making your back feel better, and helping you sleep at night.

6. Even if you don’t, and something goes wrong, you will forever wonder if your exercising caused it.
Well, I wasn't GOING to wonder that, but maybe I will now. Thanks a lot, "girlfriend."

7. It’s nine months up and nine down no matter what you do.
It's stupid to make a blanket decree like this. Some women drop the weight in a couple of months. Others take a year or more. In fact, pretty much all advice about pregnancy can in some ways seem worthless, since every complaint, every body change, every labor and delivery story, is different for every single woman.

8. Our compulsion to exercise when we are pregnant is a reflection of our inability to surrender and let nature run its course.
This is when I had to put the book down and laugh. Guess what. I surrendered the moment I saw that positive pregnancy test in February. And nature? Well, from the look and feel of things, it's running its course just fine, not hindered whatsoever - and perhaps even helped - by my dedication to working out.

And let me share my favorite part about working out while pregnant: When I go to the gym these days, I am heaped in admiration. My locker-room pals marvel at the fact that I'm still working out at nearly 6 months. They pat me on the back. They tell me I look great. And believe me, when a person is getting fatter, zittier, crankier, sweatier, and ever more uncomfortable living in their own skin, there is no quicker way to feel like a million bucks.

Friday, June 19, 2009

Spaghetti squash and a Subaru

Lots of big news and fun updates from the past couple of weeks, which has been a flurry of budgeting, buying, selling, list-making, fixing and organizing. The goal, I believe, is to be "ready" for the baby by the beginning of September, giving us a month or so of just-in-case time before we hit the real home stretch. So let's just say I'm feeling some pressure right now. But the good news is, I really dig shit like this. Diving headfirst into seven projects at once - especially when they have nothing to do with actual work! - is about my favorite thing. So here's what's been going on.

First of all, we realized several months ago to that to change our second bedroom from office/guestroom to nursery, we had to get our act together in two or three other rooms to find places to put all that stuff. We started with Sal's office, getting rid of some junky furniture on Craigslist and buying several large bookcases to organize our 1.8 trillion books. We also made one of Sal's lifelong manly dreams come true, buying him a cool leather chair. (And he totally tested out the baby-holding allowability of this model at Cost Plus, using a squishy long pillow from a nearby patio set. See? Manly!)

We also began the rather terrifying process of figuring out what we want in things like a stroller, car seat, crib. To do this, we took the advice of many and drove all the way up to Lullaby Lane in San Bruno. Everyone who tells you this is the ONLY place to do major baby shopping in the Bay Area is, I'm sure, 100 percent correct. We dealt with three salespeople about three different products and all of them were friendly, spectacularly knowledgeable and low-pressure. But this is not to say that the day was easy, so around noontime, we took a halftime break here:

We didn't make any purchases that day (we'll do that next week) as this was just to test the waters. But as we drove back to San Jose, we began to feel kinda bad about the idea of spending our money in another city. So just to play fair, we also visited San Jose's Babyland, which is famously located next to the Pink Poodle adult theater. Well, nobody talked to us, the selection wasn't nearly as good, and the whole 20 minutes we spent there just felt deflating. So we head back out to the car. And as I'm opening my door, Sal goes, "Want to know another reason we're not buying at Babyland? Because at Lullaby Lane, you don't find THIS in the parking lot."

Don't miss the fine print on that bad boy! Ahem. OK, so moving on, last week we sold my little green VW Beetle to a lovely young college student who answered my Craigslist ad. This was the first time I have ever sold a car privately (probably because it's the first time I was ever not selling a total hunk of crap) and I must say it was overall quite a pleasant experience. I LOVED that car, and I bawled as I turned the keys over. But this young woman was so sweet and barely acted scared of me at all. And a few days ago, she even sent me a photo of her and my car on a road trip to Napa. She wrote that she is in love with the car already and promises to take very good care of it. Adorable.

Then it was time to find the new, baby-friendly car. So on Tuesday night we went to the local Subaru dealership to look for a Forester, which we love because it's a teensy bit tall and a teensy bit wide, but it's not a big honking SUV. (Bonus: It's the 2009 Motor Trend Sport/Utility of the Year!) I saw a color I immediately loved in the exact trim I wanted, we took a test drive, and it was perfect. So we headed into The Scary Room with our salesman, who said the price they could give us was a hefty chunk off the sticker price, plus we qualified for an outstanding finance rate.

At this point, it had been a good 20 minutes since my last meal, and I was starving. So I told the guy we were heading out to get dinner and we'd be back. He paled, then offered to send someone to buy us dinner. Er, no. We're leaving. So he tosses us the keys and insists that we take the car. DAMN, that's a good trick. We drove it over to the nearest Round Table, since in this family, all important decisions and discussions are required to unfold over pizza.

Seriously! We had pizza twice when buying our home (once to discuss what kind of offer to make on our house, once when meeting with our financing guy) and we had pizza after the first time we saw our baby in the ultrasound. These are but three of many, many examples. We also have lots of pizza for non-important reasons, but that's not my point right now. Anyway, what we had to discuss was this: How to bargain with this guy when (a) we knew their offer was actually pretty good, (b) there's nothing more I want or need regarding the car, (c) we have a down payment, so there's no trade-in to haggle about, and (d) oh yeah, we've never done this before and are kind of clueless.

So I decided to be honest. We went back and I told the guy, "Look. The truth is, I love this car. I want this car, and I want to buy it from you. And I know you are offering a fair price. But the thing is, only a moron would walk into a car dealership and pay the very first thing the dealer offered. And I just can't be that person." And he's like, "So, you NEED something." Yes, I need something. So he went to his boss, got me a few somethings, and we shook hands. Could we have done better? Probably, but I feel pretty good about this considering it was our first time out. (Plus, don't tell Phil or whatever his name was, but we would totally have paid that first price.)

I would have posed in that picture with the car, but I didn't want to obstruct the view. HA! Jokes. But I have popped out a little bit. My helpful weekly BabyCenter e-mail tells me that the Appleseed is now the size of a spaghetti squash, hence the title of this blog post that probably should have been explained 18 paragraphs ago. Anyhow. Here's the grainy BlackBerry self-portrait taken of me and my baby at week 22!